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PepsiCo Continues Push Away from Plastic Bottles to Address Environmental Concerns

June 27, 2019, 3:30 PM UTC
PepsiCo is testing Aquafina in cans in an attempt to move away from plastic.
PepsiCo is testing Aquafina in cans in an attempt to move away from plastic.
Courtesy of PepsiCo

PepsiCo is making changes to some of its fastest-growing brands—but it has nothing to do with the liquid inside its bottles.

The snacking and beverage giant is switching up the packaging for some of its water portfolio as it works to remove plastic from its supply chain amid a growing concern from consumers over the material’s environmental footprint.

“It’s really important to our consumers that we’re thinking about the impact we have on the planet,” says Stacy Taffet, vice president of PepsiCo’s water portfolio.

Beginning next year, PepsiCo will sell its Aquafina water in aluminum cans in U.S. food service outlets and test them for broader distribution in retail. In addition, its sparkling water brand Bubly will no longer be packaged in plastic—cans only—and Lifewtr will be packaged in only recycled plastic.

PepsiCo says that all of the changes will eliminate more than 8,000 metric tons of virgin plastic and about 11,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The company has set a goal that by 2025 all of its packaging will be recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable and that 25% of its plastic packaging will come from recycled materials.

Taffet says that one of the benefit of aluminum is that it’s recycled more than plastic, in part because it has a higher monetary value. The company chose to switch to recycled plastic rather than use aluminum with Lifewtr because people like to reseal the bottles and carry them with them all day. Taffet says that the new Lifewtr packaging will require investment and changes to its supply chain and manufacturing footprint.

The company has led an industry-wide effort to reverse declines in U.S. household recycling, which it hopes will also increase the supply of the recycled plastic that can be used in its packaging.

PepsiCo has also made some big investments in the reusable bottle world, last year acquiring Sodastream, the at-home countertop water machine, for $3.2 billion. Earlier this year it also rolled out a new beverage dispenser for the food service sector the relies on reusable bottles.

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